Tuesday, 28 April 2009

WHITE STORK seen again

Driving home from work this evening (16:15) coming into Woolmer Green and looks up to see a Common Buzzard soaring. Then another bird higher than the Buzzard catches my eye and I see trailing legs (approaching the Datchworth turn at this point) then I see the neck extended so I quickly check the way is clear and pull over, grab me bins and low and behold, a WHITE STORK!!!

I was well chuffed.I lost site of it going behind houses and drove further along to a field to pick it up again but there was no sign so maybe it came down nearby as shortly after it began to hail (Ray Hopper)

Monday, 27 April 2009


Light southerly winds coupled with long periods of warm sunshine but clouding over from time to time.

NEWNHAM (HERTS) (1045-1115 hours)

A male DOTTEREL in transitional plumage showed extremely well in the large pea field SE of the road between Newnham and Ashwell at TL 255 385. When three Common Buzzards overflew the field, it crouched low to the ground but seemed unperturbed by the attention being shown to it by the 20 or so roadside observers. At times, it walked to within 50 yards of the road. It was quite dark on the lower underparts (belly) and very orange on the sides and flanks, with bright ginger edges to the wing coverts and tertials, an obvious buff eye-stripe and gleaming white undertail-coverts. It flew off strongly west late morning (per Ian Bennell).

The same field also yielded a male YELLOW WAGTAIL and 5 WHEATEARS (including a male GREENLAND).


A superb WHIMBREL was present at dusk (2000-2020 hours) gracing the winter water meadow field (now largely dried up apart from a small muddy scrape) (with Chris Carpenter, incidentally the guy I have repeatedly misidentified as Ed Griffiths - apologies).

A LITTLE OWL was loudly calling.


A TAWNY OWL with large prey flew to a nest hole in a tall Oak.


Well a most bizarre evening - I trekked out after dark to the Rushy Meadow and reedbed and under a starry sky and bit-moon listened intently to a pair of WATER RAILS displaying. These 'summer' calls of Water Rail are most different to the typical squealing calls we hear in winter and are very peculiar, rising and increasing in tone. The birds sparked off the biggest night twitch at the reservoirs that I can remember !

Another singing WOOD WARBLER


A broad front moved in from the south overnight bringing light SSW winds and moderate rain throughout the day (until 1630 hours at least). Temperatures during the rain struggled to rise above 8 degrees centigrade.


The COMMON KINGFISHERS continue to do well, with the male regularly flying back and forth to the burrow

The rain brought down large numbers of hirundines including 168 SAND MARTINS, 73 BARN SWALLOWS and at least 11 HOUSE MARTINS.


With the rain still heavy, two male YELLOW WAGTAILS were present on the bank just by the car park steps, with 24 COMMON SWIFTS overhead, 18 HOUSE MARTINS and 58 Common Terns.

BOXMOOR (TL 005 025) (1030 hours)

An overgrown area of scrub and Birch situated on old brick workings behind Gilberts and Aston Martin garage. A very vocal COMMON CUCKOO was showing extremely well (and present for its second day) - the first and perhaps only bird in my local recording area this year.

There were also 4 singing male COMMON WHITETHROATS, 4 Common Chiffchaffs, several Blackcaps and a single WILLOW WARBLER.

Resident birds included 2 Green Woodpeckers, 3 Wrens, 3 Dunnocks and 3 nesting pairs of Common Blackbird. Also Great Tit and 4 Woodpigeon pairs.


Again, despite the rain, a singing WOOD WARBLER was occasionally showing just SW of Cattermole's Community Woodland late morning (at TQ 032 973) (present for its second day)

DIRECTIONS: from the A404 in Chorleywood, turn into the main entrance in Lady Ella Drive and continue past the Summer House and tennis courts to the parking place by Dell Wood. Walk west along the road towards the Montessori School and turn right over the stile and walk north past the Chorleywood Common Youth Football Club building for 100 yards to the entrance to the wood. There is an area of Bluebells within this part of the wood and this is the area in which the Wood Warbler is favouring. A mega bird for this area and only my second within walking distance of my house in 23 years.

DOTTEREL near Royston - image

This male DOTTEREL (photographed above by Roger Millard) was present from early morning until 1115 hours on Sunday 26 April in a large pea field between Newnham and Ashwell.

This same field also held a male Yellow Wagtail and 5 Northern Wheatears (including a male Greenland)

Male RING OUZEL at Whitwell - 26 April

Male RING OUZEL at Kimpton Hoo nr Whitewell showing well in trees behind the white cottage at the entrance track to Kimpton Hoo (Mike Ilett)


At Amwell GP: BAR-TAILED GODWIT north at 2.30 briefly landing, 2 Dunlin, 2 Oystercatcher, 2 LRP, 15 Swift, Garden Warbler, 3 Little Egret, Hobby.

At Cheshunt/Holyfield this morning: 10+ Swifts, many Reed Warblers in, Garden Warbler, 2 Hobby, Common Buzzards, 3+ COMMON NIGHTINGALES, 10+ Common Terns (Graham White)

WOOD WARBLER in Brocket Park - 25 April

Anyway, doing some tetrad work late morning I came across a WOOD WARBLER in Brocket Park. The bird was generally very elusive and singing only very occasionally, but it did show well once or twice. The bird was observed on 3 occasions between 11.55 and 12.15 when I left.

Take Marford Rd between WGC and Wheathampstead, and park in the main layby on the Brocket side of the road. Follow the footpath down through the woods, cross river Lea and turn right up the steep wooded bank into what is known as Bluebell Wood (very original!!). The bird was in the wooded area at the top of the hill. Stick to the footpath - that was the area where it was singing from anyway (Anthony Dorman)


COMMON GREENSHANK, Main pit; 2 NORTHERN WHEATEARS far sheep field north of main pit (Steve Blake)

Friday, 24 April 2009


Friday 24 April

A WHIMBREL was present at Tyttenhanger GP this morning before flying off east at 1215 (per JT). Later this evening, one was present briefly at Amwell GP (Barry Reed) whilst another flew through Tring Reservoirs mid afternoon (Jonathon Nasir/Ian Williams)

The reeling GRASSHOPPER WARBLER was still showing well on Croxley Common Moor (several observers)

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

OSPREY still present


Another fabulously glorious summer's day, with temperatures reaching 21 degrees centigrade. Clear, bright and sunny throughout.

Took a call at 1500 hours from Mike Collard to say that the OSPREY that I had seen early yesterday morning was back at Chenies Bottom again. I rushed down there and five minutes later joined local nature lover Alison Etherington at the bridge. I scanned the Mill Farm Water Meadows and high over the River Chess, overflying Sarratt Bottom (Hertfordshire) was the OSPREY.

It slowly started drifting back westwards and after seven minutes had returned to the section of Chess immediately north of Chenies Place. As yesterday morning, it started hovering and for the next 20 minutes, it drifted back and forth over the water meadow. On one occasion, it plunged rapidly down to the river and submerged itself in the water, resurfacing with nothing.

I had contacted Dave Bilcock and Simon Nichols in the interim, as well as Rare Bird Alert, and at 1530 it flew and sat at the top of one of the tall trees in Chenies Place garden (interestingly, Alison had seen the bird early this morning, from 0715-0745, when at one stage it perched aloft the conifer in Dodd's Mill garden). Fortunately Dave arrived whilst the bird was still in the tree, as did Jeff Bailey (who had been watching it independently from the Chess Valley Walk from 1500 hours).

The four of us watched in awe as it suddenly took flight from its perch and made a beeline for the river. At considerable speed it hit the water and within a short space of time, resurfaced with a large fish in its talons. At this point, a Common Buzzard and male Common Kestrel took an interest and chased the Osprey. The latter spiralled slowly upward and then began thermalling, circling the meadows for some 15 minutes before drifting off eastwards towards Sarrattmill Bridge. During this time, it traversed back and forth from Hertfordshire to Buckinghamshire. DB kept with the bird following it with his 'scope and after a long time in the air presumably searching for a suitable place in which to devour his prize, it slowly started to drift back towards Chenies Bottom. Suddenly at 1608 hours, it spied somewhere suitable and like a bullet, swept back its wings and dived down in to Limeshill Wood (Herts) (TQ 022 993).

In all, the bird was on view for a period of an hour and eight minutes, offering us all some magnificent views. JT arrived shortly later, closely followed by IW and MCo, but I have not heard if the bird reappeared.

Another major coo was the presence of two singing male COMMON WHITETHROATS - another rare visitor in my parish. One male was on the Mill Farm Water Meadows and another by Church Covert reserve to the west.

Two BARN SWALLOWS flew west, as did a single HOUSE MARTIN, whilst 6 different COMMON BUZZARDS were sighted and 3 Grey Herons.

A beautiful male GREY WAGTAIL was by the bridge, with a pair of Long-tailed Tits nestbuilding in Dodd's Mill garden and several House Sparrows in the hedgerows in the hamlet.


Leave the M25 at Junction 18 and follow NW through Chorleywood towards Amersham. After just over two miles, take Latimer Road (signposted Chesham) on the right. Drive carefully through Chenies village and as you traverse the sharp bends and drop down the incline, veer off right safely at the bottom. Continue down for 50 yards and park sensibly and courteously at the side of the road. The Osprey moves between the area just to the west of the bridge and over the meadows and river to the right.

Today's News

A reeling GRASSHOPPER WARBLER was present on the north side of Stocker's Lake this morning, whilst just a female NORTHERN WHEATEAR remains at Norton Green.

The OSPREY was present for its second day at Chenies (Chess River Valley).
Below is a summary of HERTFORDSHIRE sightings not previously highlighted on this blog site. Remember, for details of all birds seen at the premier county site of Tring Reservoirs, browse my Tring blog site at http://birdingtringreservoirs.blogspot.com/

LITTLE EGRET: 5 at East Hyde on 4th (Mike Russell)
*EURASIAN BITTERN: the wintering bird remained at Maple Lodge NR until 2nd.
EGYPTIAN GEESE: a pair remained at Lynster's Farm throughout (Ian Bennell et al)
Ruddy Shelduck: a female of presumed captive origin was near Flamstead on 1st (Ernest Leahy) before relocating on Willows Farm Pool, Tyttenhanger, on 3rd and then the main pit from 4th-13th.
*GARGANEY: a beautiful drake at Maple Lodge NR on 12th (Steve Carter, Darin Stanley, JT, et al) with it or another at Stocker's Lake on 21-22 April
GOOSANDER: a single redhead remained at Kings Mead on 1st-6th (Alan Reynolds), with probably the same bird art Amwell NR the same day (David Booth).
*MERLIN: one at Barley briefly on 12th (Toby Austin)
OYSTERCATCHER: 3 at Tyttenhanger GP from 4th-7th (many observers) with another south over Royston at 1105 on 13th (Tim Wilson).
LITTLE RINGED PLOVER: noted at Kings Mead on 1st (Alan Reynolds) and on the River Ver that same day (Ernest Leahy), with a pair in the Tyttenhanger area throughout
DUNLIN: 3 adults in summer plumage at Tyttenhanger GP on 11th (Mick Frosdick)
GREEN SANDPIPER: 1 remained at Scotsbridge Mill until at least 6th (Geoff Lapworth) with 4 at Standalone Farm, Letchworth, on 5th (Ray Hooper)
**WHIMBREL: a flock of 5 birds landed near Hatchpen Farm, Royston, on 15th but flew off N at 0930 (M Johnson). The first of the year.
SHORT-EARED OWLS: the two wintering birds were still on territory at Beech Farm on 11th (Mark Payne)
COMMON CUCKOO: the first of the year was calling at Colney Heath on 11th (S.Evans) and at Walkern the same day (C.Allen) followed quickly by further singles at Welwyn on 12th (M.Bridges), Withy Beds LNR on 12th-20th (JT), Bricket Wood on 12th, Colney Heath on 13th (DB) and Croxley Common Moor from 14th.
LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER: a displaying pair was noted in Cassiobury Park on 1st (M.Beatley)
HOUSE MARTIN: an early bird flew N at Puckeridge on 2nd April (Murray Orchard) with another over Croxley Common Moor on 3rd (Joan Thompson)
YELLOW WAGTAIL: The first male at Tyttenhanger appeared on 7th
BLACK REDSTART: a first-summer male showed well at Woodoaks Farm from 3rd-4th (John Edwards et al) with a female probably of this species in a Field Lane, Letchworth, garden on 4th (P.Moore).
Northern Wheatear: 2 males at Woodoaks Farm on 3rd-4th April (JE et al) with the first male at Norton Green on 4th (AF), a male at Willows Farm, Tyttenhanger, on 6th (Steve Blake), another male at Woodoaks Farm on 6th (GL), a male at Croxley Common Moor on 7th (GL), a further male at Norton Green on 7th-8th (Dave Beer), 3 at Tyttenhanger Sheep Fields on 8th, 3 on the rifle range at Therfield Heath on 8th (A.Beale), a female at Cromer Hyde on 11th (Anthony Dorman), 3 at Norton Green on 12th (Ray Hooper), a female in Thrales End Lane near East Hyde on 13th (J & F Dowley), Tyttenhanger GP again on 13th, a female at Batford on 14th (DS)
Fieldfare: 4 late birds at Hamper Mill on 13th (JT)
Sedge Warbler: the first of the year was a singing male at Kings Mead on 4th (AR) followed by another at Amwell on 7th (Tim Hill)
Common Whitethroat: the first singing male of the year was at Tyttenhanger GP on 11th
WILLOW WARBLER: noted at Fairlands Lake, Stevenage, on 1st (A.Ford), Croxley Common Moor from 3rd (JT, GL) (increasing to 4 by 7th, 5 on 8th), Tyttenhanger GP on 3rd (David Booth), Temple End on 5th (John Crystal), 3 on Berkhamsted Common on 7th (M.Spittles)
Nuthatch: 2 displaying at Stockers Lake on 3rd (Steve Carter)
BRAMBLING: male in Puckeridge on 2nd (Murray Orchard)


Well at last I am making some inroads with my 2009 Hertfordshire Year List

Thanks to Darin Stanley yesterday (Monday 20 April), I was able to add WHINCHAT when from 1345-1404, the corking male in full breeding plumage performed admirably along the fenceline at the back of the weedy field adjacent to the Lower Luton Road just south of Batford village

Whilst today (Tuesday 21 April), thanks to a sharp-eyed Darrel Bryant, I was able to add my first RING OUZEL - a superb adult male - as it fed unperturbed out on the open flat plateau just south of the traveller encampment in the NW corner of Norton Green (until 1720 hours at least). Earlier in the day, 20 or so observers had connected, including JT, DB and MF. The first of the year in the county. There was also a female NORTHERN WHEATEAR on site, as well as 2+ singing male COMMON WHITETHROATS and a pair of GREY PARTRIDGE

Elsewhere Darin heard a COMMON NIGHTINGALE sing briefly at lunchtime in the hedgerow just south of Batford (not heard again) and many of the commoner migrants such as COMMON CUCKOO and WESTERN REED WARBLER have now arrived.

Friday, 17 April 2009

The Story So Far in 2009


A total of 154 species was recorded by 17th April 2009
(LGRE Total = 134 - 12 March - those marked in blue)

Birds marked with an asterisk (*) are of unknown origin, most likely escapes from captivity

1) Great Crested Grebe
2) Little Grebe
4) Sinensis Cormorant
6) Little Egret
7) Grey Heron
9) Mute Swan
11) Greylag Goose
12) Canada Goose
14) Common Shelduck
15) Ruddy Shelduck*
16) Egyptian Goose
17) Mandarin Duck
18) Mallard
19) Gadwall
20) Pintail
21) Shoveler
22) Eurasian Wigeon
23) Common Teal
25) Pochard
26) Red-crested Pochard
27) Tufted Duck
29) Common Goldeneye
30) SMEW
31) Goosander
33) Ruddy Duck
35) Red Kite
36) Common Buzzard
37) Sparrowhawk
38) Kestrel

41) Red-legged Partridge
42) Grey Partridge
43) Common Pheasant
44) Water Rail
45) Moorhen
46) Coot
47) Oystercatcher
49) Ringed Plover
50) Little Ringed Plover
51) Lapwing
52) European Golden Plover
53) Dunlin
54) Common Sandpiper
55) Green Sandpiper
56) Common Redshank

59) Woodcock
60) Common Snipe
61) Jack Snipe
62) RUFF
63) Black-headed Gull
64) Common Gull
66) Herring Gull
67) Yellow-legged Gull
69) Lesser Black-backed Gull
70) Great Black-backed Gull

76) Common Tern
78) Stock Dove
79) Woodpigeon
80) Collared Dove
81) Common Cuckoo
82) Tawny Owl
84) Barn Owl
85) Little Owl
86) Common Kingfisher
87) Ring-necked Parakeet
88) Green Woodpecker
89) Great Spotted Woodpecker
91) Skylark
93) Sand Martin
94) Barn Swallow
95) House Martin
96) Meadow Pipit

99) Pied Wagtail
101) Yellow Wagtail
102) Grey Wagtail
103) Wren
105) Dunnock
106) Robin
107) Common Nightingale
108) Common Redstart

110) Northern Wheatear
111) Stonechat
112) Song Thrush
113) Redwing
114) Mistle Thrush
115) Fieldfare
116) Common Blackbird
117) Blackcap
118) Lesser Whitethroat
119) Common Whitethroat
120) Sedge Warbler
121) Cetti’s Warbler
122) Western Reed Warbler
123) Grasshopper Warbler
124) Willow Warbler
125) Common Chiffchaff
126) Goldcrest
127) Great Tit
128) Coal Tit
129) Blue Tit
130) Marsh Tit
131) Long-tailed Tit
132) Nuthatch
133) Common Treecreeper
135) Magpie
136) Jay
137) Jackdaw
138) Rook
139) Carrion Crow
141) Starling
142) House Sparrow
144) Chaffinch
146) Linnet
148) Goldfinch
149) Siskin
150) Greenfinch
151) Bullfinch
152) Reed Bunting
153) Yellowhammer

Thursday, 16 April 2009

More suppression at Hilfield Park Reservoir

The drake RED-BREASTED MERGANSER was seen by several observers at Hilfield Park Reservoir yesterday (13 April) but as usual, after countless attempts to eradicate such behaviour, its presence was unfortunately suppressed from the vast majority of us for no good reason

I have given up trying to stop this selfish approach from those that regularly visit the site and have accepted that it is very unlikely I am ever going to hear about anything there unless it is in midwinter (and even then it is most unlikely)

It is such a shame that we have to put up with this in Herts, particularly as it is such a good site with huge potential.

Browsers will be interested in the entry in the latest British Birds (April 2009, Volume 102) on page 171.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009


At 1030 hours this morning, the first confirmed OSPREY of the spring flew low north over Startop's End Reservoir being mobbed by Common Terns (Jonathan Nasir)

Despite my enthusiasm for the weather conditions, Ivinghoe Hills drew a blank this morning for migrants and other than a few more WESTERN REED and SEDGE WARBLERS, very little has come out of it (per Steve Rodwell)

A single ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWIT was at Amwell NR early morning (per Barry Reed)

Tuesday, 14 April 2009


Highlight of the day was an adult PIED AVOCET which remained throughout on the main reserve pit, feeding around the 'island' at the NE end (many observers)

WHITE STORK of unknown origin in North Herts 11 April

This afternoon my pager gave news of a WHITE STORK at Albury near Bishops Stortford. Having missed the Tring birds last year by minutes, I dashed off straight away, and arrived to find 2 local birders and Bill Last looking at the bird, but as I got out of the car they said "Quick, before it disappears over the hill!" I just managed to get a view through one of their scopes of the head and neck before it walked over the brow of the hill. A local resident then passed in his car, and showed us where we could get a view of the rest of the field. We drove round, with Anthony Dorman, who had arrived just too late to see it, and had excellent views of it feeding in the field. However, a dog walker passed along the edge of the field. The stork looked nervous and stopped feeding, and then flew off low over our heads, and over the village and out of sight. It could still be in the area, though possibly in Essex.At the start of the year, a few of us posted messages saying what we hoped to add to our Herts lists in 2009, and I said White Stork! Next year I'll wish for Siberian Thrush! (David Booth)


This morning at Amwell: 1 LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER drumming, 1 EGYPTIAN GOOSE, 1 Common Shelduck, 5 singing CETTI'S WARBLERS, 8 Sedge, 3 Willow, 5 Blackcap, 3 Western Reed, Common Whitethroat, 1 Redwing, pair Ringed Plover, 4 Common Redshank (Graham White)


A good morning's birding today despite, or perhaps because of, the rain. Three DUNLIN were on the island in the main lake, but flew off at 10;45. A Common Tern was on the fishing lake, and then moved to the main lake. A Sedge Warbler and a Common Whitethroat were singing intermittently by the river. There were 7 Common Redshank in front of the hide, and another 2 were on the Willows Farm pool, almost certainly different birds. The 2 Oystercatchers were also there. At least 6 House Martins were over the main lake, with about 40 Sand Martins, and Swallows were everywhere, probably 20 in all (David Booth)

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Spring Migration in full swing

Just returned from a long sojourn in Israel. Migration seems to be in full swing with many species arrived, including both HOUSE MARTIN and BARN SWALLOW.

This morning, Ian Williams, Geoff Lapworth, Joan Thompson and I saw the first-summer male BLACK REDSTART at Woodoaks Farm that John Edwards had discovered yesterday (April 3rd). There were also two NORTHERN WHEATEARS there, whilst a singing male WILLOW WARBLER remains for a second day at Croxley Common Moor (Joan Thompson et al).

A female Ruddy Shelduck of presumed captive origin remains at Tyttenhanger GP (many observers) whilst LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS are present at numerous locations.

Lee G R Evans